Facebook is being sued over allegations the social media site is monitoring the private messages of its users.
The social media site faces a class action lawsuit that claims the site scans any links to other websites sent in private messages in order to profile users’ web activity.
Facebook has been accused of religiously intercepting private messages to gather user data and then sell it to advertisers, marketers and other data aggregation companies.
The lawsuit aims to claim either $100 (£61) per day for each day of the purported monitoring period, or $10,000 for each user, whichever is greater.
“We will defend ourselves vigorously,” said Facebook, adding that the allegations were “without merit.”
Filed this week, the lawsuit has independent research to back it up. This research claims Facebook reviews private message content “for purposes unrelated to the facilitation of message transmission.”
“Representing to users that the content of Facebook messages is ‘private’ creates an especially profitable opportunity for Facebook”, continues the independent research. “[This is] beacuase users who believe they are communicating on a service free from surveillance are likely to reveal facts about themselves that they would not reveal had they known the content was being monitored.”
“Thus, Facebook has positioned itself to acquire piece of the users’ profiles that are likely unavailable to other data aggregators.”
However, some critics suggest Facebook is totally in its right to scan the private messages of its users and by doing so if actually providing a “duty of care”.
“If you didn’t properly scan and check links there’s a very real risk that spams, scams, phishing attacks and malicious URLs designed to infect recipients’ computers with malware could run rife,” argued security expert Graham Cluley on his blog.
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